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Ask the book doctor.

Dear Dr. Rosie:

I am a self-published author, and as part of my promotional efforts I have scheduled book signings at several stores. Although I've had over ten signings, none have been successful. I've done four local signings and six out of town. No matter where I've x been, only a handful of people show up--most of whom just happened to be in the store at the time. I have lost so much money traveling to other cities and selling just ten or so books. Are the bookstores doing something wrong? I am so frustrated that I'm ready to throw in the towel.


There are few experiences more disappointing for an author than to be sitting behind a table, surrounded by books hoping that someone will make a purchase.

The key to getting the kind of attendance that will make these signings worth your while is to remember that this is your book and your dream. Do not rely on the bookstore for publicity. Ask the store what their publicity plans are so that you do not duplicate their efforts. Then, you can get to work. The first thing you want to do is make your signing an "event." Create some excitement to draw the crowd. Create a topic for your event and develop promotional materials that you can send to the bookstores ahead of time, including counter-top placards and posters that can be placed in the window announcing your event. Develop postcard invitations that you can mail, have friends hand them out, or even have the stores distribute them to their customers. (You can have postcards developed with a picture of your book, leaving space for you to write in the information for each signing.)

Never underestimate the power of having friends and family attend your signings. Having a crowd gathered around you will draw other curious on-lookers. I suggest doing signings in cities where you have friends or family so you can have extra support in getting people to attend. Use any contacts you have to get media support--feature articles, mentions in events calendars, etc. Signings preceded by media support are much more successful. Get a list of local media (newspapers, television and radio) from the bookstores, then, send a press package to each contact, including the topic of your event, photos, time and other specifics. Remember, an "event" will be more appealing to the media than a "signing."

Once you're at the store, don't just sit behind a table. Be active in getting people to come and see what you have. People are attracted to activity. Make your event interesting.

If you follow these steps, you will win, the store will win and you will be invited back. So, recreate and repackage yourself and have a great book event!
COPYRIGHT 2001 Cox, Matthews & Associates
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2001
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